Crimson and gray OK, but Butch barred from zoo

Butch T. CougarSEATTLE – Nearly 600 Washington State University Global Campus online students and family members will gather at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17. But the most animalistic WSU representative has been told to stay out.
Is it because WSU mascot Butch T. Cougar is too boisterous? Because he’d scarf up all the food? Because other critters would envy his dance moves?

It’s just to keep everything mellow, said Toni Godwin Sells, zoo events manager: “Seeing Butch walking around could trigger the zoo animals’ predator or prey instinct.”

In other words, Butch would have the same effect he has on opposing football teams. But not to worry. Even without the furry feline, the Global Campus students will have lots to do.

They’ll see the 92-acre collection of animal exhibits – including the week-old giraffe and  5-month-old jaguar triplets – eat a free lunch and meet their online classmates in person.

Global Campus in-person events usually draw no more than 200 people, said John Larson, a senator with the online student government. This inaugural zoo event, called “Rendezoo,” topped everyone’s estimates with more than 580 signups.

“We were blown away by the response,” Larson said. “It’s going to be great seeing Woodland Park Zoo full of crimson and gray.”

The high turnout required the Global Campus to move the event from the zoo’s Family Farm to the vast North Meadow.
“Fortunately the zoo has lots of options for private events,” said ASWSU-Global advisor Erica Vieira. “The zoo staff has been a huge help. And the event coordinator I’m working with is a WSU Global Campus graduate.”

The Global Campus also invites online students – and Butch – to graduation parties, tailgate parties and luncheons.

“We always enjoy seeing students get their first taste of the Coug Nation,” said Debbie O’Donnell, Global Campus director of marketing and student services. “But for them, this is just the beginning. They’ll have that sense of Cougar pride all their lives.”

Gigi Allianic, public relations and communications, Woodland Park Zoo, 206-548-2550,

Erica Vieira, program coordinator/ASWSU global advisor, WSU Global Campus, 509-592-7652,